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New opportunities to make a Green vote count in Southwark
Uniting to Remain, Lib Dems step aside for the Green Party's co-leader Jonathan Bartley in Dulwich & West Norwood, while Hannah Graham of the Green Party steps aside in Bermondsey & Old Southwark.
The co-leader of the Green Party, Jonathan Bartley, has been selected to fight the seat of Dulwich and West Norwood in South London at the general election. The other Remain parties, the Lib Dems and Change UK, will not contest the seat as part of the 'Remain Alliance' organised by Unite to Remain. Voters in this constiituency have the opportunity to make history and elect London’s first Green Party MP.
The constituency of Dulwich & West Norwood is shared between the boroughs of Southwark and Lambeth. Both boroughs had high votes for 'Remain' in the 2016 referendum, with Lambeth polling at 78% and Southwark at 73%.
In the recent European elections in Dulwich and West Norwood, Remain parties (Lib Dems, Change UK and the Greens) received 64% of the vote. Labour achieved 19%, the Brexit Party 10% and the Conservatives just 4%.
In Bermondsey & Old Southwark, the Green Party will not field a candidate in the upcoming General Election, as part of a national series of electoral arrangements with the Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru.
This decision was not made lightly. Following a motion at the Green Party conference to enable national negotiations, and detailed local discussion, Green Party members in the constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark were balloted on their views. We deeply regret that voters in some constituencies, including this one, are being denied the chance to vote Green.
In this climate emergency, it is more crucial than ever for the country to have more Green MPs. But in a First Past The Post voting system, smaller parties lose out. Voters feel disenfranchised, unable to vote for their real first choice. That's why we have always supported Fairer Votes, and a reform of the voting system.
A series of electoral arrangements has been made in a handful of constituencies across England and Wales to ensure the Remain vote is unified and to help elect more Green MPs in places like the Isle of Wight and Bristol West. We welcome the reciprocal action by the Liberal Democrats. This does not mean that the Green Party agrees with the Lib Dems on all issues or endorses their manifesto. A summary of the Green Party political programme can be found here.
Green Party candidate Hannah Graham is stepping aside in Bermondsey & Old Southwark. She said:
‘While I am very sorry not to be able to stand to represent people living in Bermondsey and Old Southwark, I believe this arrangement is the best way forward for local people. It shows that Greens are willing to work with other parties for the common good.
‘I will continue to support Greens in the general election campaign in Southwark. I will be heading over to Dulwich and West Norwood where Jonathan Bartley is standing. He’s a well-known spokesperson for the national party and a councillor in Lambeth. I will also be supporting incredible local activist Claire Sheppard who is standing as the Green Party candidate in Camberwell and Peckham.
‘I urge Green supporters from all over Southwark to support Jonathan and Claire. Have a look on greenparty.org.uk and southwarkgreenparty.org.uk to find out what’s happening near you, and follow @SouthwarkGP on Twitter and Facebook.’
Hannah Graham is also a candidate on the Green Party list for the London Assembly. This is an election conducted under a proportional voting system and voters across Southwark will be able to vote for Hannah to become a London Assembly member, joining existing Green Assembly Members Sian Berry and Caroline Russell, in May 2020.
Your Green Party candidates in Southwark
Camberwell & Peckham
Nunhead resident and local activist Claire Sheppard will be standing for the Green Party. Claire set up the Nunhead and Peckham branch of the Women's Institute, and campaigns for climate and social justice.
Dulwich & West Norwood
Jonathan Bartley is co-leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, a councillor in St Leonard's ward, Lambeth, and Leader of the Opposition on Lambeth council.
More information about Jonathan and his campaign can be found here.
Protect our trees – and plant many more
Most of us feel a deep sense of loss when trees we're used to seeing every day are felled. Unfortunately, that's an experience all too familiar in Southwark, where many trees have come down over the past decade. The council's own figures show a net loss of around 1,400 street trees between 2013 and 2017 alone.
Southwark Transport Plan Annual Monitoring Report, 2016/17, p.45
Southwark Green Party has long campaigned to protect trees and green spaces. We welcomed the chance to reply to Southwark Council's recent consultation on its vision and objectives for tree management. The consultation has now closed, but you can read the draft Tree Management Policy on the council's consultation hub.
In March 2019 a motion to declare a climate emergency was passed unanimously by Southwark’s Council Assembly and committed Southwark to becoming carbon neutral by 2030.
Southwark Green Party believes the council's policies on tree planting and management should be driven by this target. To achieve this, it is essential that mature trees are protected and many more trees are planted along our streets, on estates and in parks.
We were disappointed to find that Southwark's draft Tree Management Policy contains no mention of either the 2030 target or the declaration of a climate emergency. The document suggests that trees are something to be managed, while bringing "environmental benefits" and contributing to "local character". But trees can do so much more! Large-scale planting schemes could transform our streets, estates and green spaces, and play a crucial role in absorbing greenhouse gases and tackling the climate crisis.
So how can Southwark make this happen? Below are some of our proposals.[Read more...]
Part of Green Dale. Photo: Friends of Dog Kennel Hill Wood
Southwark Green Party has submitted an objection to the planning application to build a new stadium on Metropolitan Open Land on Green Dale. This Site of Importance for Nature Conservation is in East Dulwich, roughly between the large branch of Sainsbury's on busy Dog Kennel Hill and the pedestrian and cycle-path between Champion Hill and Dulwich that's also - very confusingly - known as Green Dale.
We were proud to give German MEP Terry Reintke a badge celebrating the long friendship between Dulwich Hamlet and the German club Altona 93, on her visit to Peckham this summer.
We support Dulwich Hamlet Football Club as a pillar of the local community, and celebrate its special character as inclusive and socially progressive. But we are not convinced that this plan is any more sustainable for the club than previous ones, and would rather see investment in the clubhouse, bar and sports centre to help support the club.
Where will the local footballers and fans of the future go for a kickabout, when the proposed Multi Use Games Area is just 5% of the size of the existing free access astroturf pitches?
Local resident and Green Party member Eleanor Margolies has written about the value of Green Dale for local residents here and the Friends of Dog Kennel Hill wood have written a thorough account of the many reasons for objecting to this proposal here.
We gave Southwark Council the following key reasons for our objection:
1. Undermining protection of Metropolitan Open Land
The loss of Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) has become a worrying trend in recent years. The Council for Protection of Rural England's 2014 Green Belt Review notes the large volumes of open space that have been lost in London since 2009, with MOL accounting for the largest proportion of this.
Open spaces in general and MOL in particular contribute significantly to the physical and mental health of residents of Southwark and of London. The MOL designation, as you will be aware, is is intended to protect areas of landscape, recreation, nature conservation and scientific interest which are strategically important. Green Dale was designated as MOL for good reason, and twice previously developers have been refused permission to build on Green Dale fields. The intention to protect it should be upheld. The coherence of policy should thus be maintained, along with the integrity of protected designations.
This is a point that we have made before in previous applications (March 2017) relating to this site, so it's disappointing to see a further application that seeks to overturn this principle. We hope the council will not entertain such backwards steps.
2. Loss of community and social benefit
The current use of the site adjoining Green Dale for Dulwich Hamlet Football Ground and the open astroturf pitch is part of an arrangement to compensate the local community for the loss of open space when the Sainsbury's supermarket was built. Again the recognition of this social contract needs to be respected rather than overridden by any new development, lest Southwark becomes a borough where the needs and amenities of local communities are constantly eroded.
The borough of Southwark has one of the highest levels of adult and child obesity in London, with more than 40% of children overweight and obese when they leave primary school, compared to 33% nationally. Nearby facilities for informal sports have been taken away (e.g. for building new blocks on the East Dulwich Estate) making the public 'turn up and play' pitches on Green Dale more essential than ever.
The proposed Multi Use Games Area MUGA is 5% of the size of the current astro turf pitch. This reduction in publicly accessible sports facilities goes against policies 2.1 'Enhancement of community facilities' of the Southwark Plan 2007, Strategic policies 4 'Places for learning, enjoyment and healthy lifestyles' and 11 'Open spaces and wildlife' of the Core Strategy 2011, and Policy 3.19 'Sports facilities' of the London Plan 2016."
3. Unique character of Green Dale scrubland
The London Wildlife Trust views Green Dale's area of unspoilt scrub and grassland as unique in inner South London. Southwark Council have designated it a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation. At a point where the benefits of re-wilding parts of our environment are increasingly being recognised across London and around the world, the developers' proposals threaten to take Green Dale in the opposite direction. Southwark could lose a unique area that supports - according to ecological assessments - foraging birds, bats and small mammals including hedgehogs. The developers' 'investment' risks turning this into a sanitised identikit space of the kind already spread across the borough.
High numbers of Southwark residents live in flats with no access to garden space. Green Dale is adjoined by two large council estates (circa 1,500 flats in blocks) and provides a crucial opportunity for local children to experience the natural world through professionally led bird- and bat-watching walks, supervised conservation work and independent exploration.
4. Further policy conflict
We note that Southwark councillors unanimously declared a climate emergency in March this year, with the aim of making borough carbon neutral by 2030. Doing away with protection of MOL and green spaces would undermine efforts to meet that target.
5. Compensatory benefits are questionable
We support the growth and prosperity of Dulwich Hamlet Football Club. However, we do not see clear evidence that the new larger stadium would be more sustainable for them than the current one. We do not want to see the club bite off more than it can chew by taking on new overheads that it may not be able to afford in the long term.
Friends of Green Dale The site includes reports on the wildlife and trees on Green Dale
The proposed expansion of Heathrow and London City airports would be an environmental catastrophe. It would mean more plane noise, more pollution, more congestion on our roads. Increases in greenhouse gas emissions would make it impossible for the UK to meet even its current, inadequate commitments to address the crisis of the global rise in temperatures.
The construction of a third runway at Heathrow (in effect, a new airport adjoining the existing one) would have the most damaging environmental impact of any new infrastructure project in Britain. It will result in 750 more flights a day (280,000 a year); the destruction of around 750 homes; two new car parks with 24,000 and 22,000 parking spaces; diversions of the M25 and A4; the rerouting of local rivers; and loss of habitats at wildlife areas including Staines Moor, a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Increased disturbance from flight paths will impact Southwark residents, along with millions of people across London, including many who are not currently overflown.
At London City airport in the Docklands, expansion plans would almost double the number of flights, affecting some of London's most heavily overflown communities, including parts of Southwark. The current respite break from 12.30pm Saturday to 12.30pm Sunday would be scrapped and there would be more early morning and late evening flights.
Speaking at the launch of the campaign against London City's plans, Caroline Russell, Green Party member in the London Assembly, said: “Londoners' lives are made a misery by aircraft noise. It’s really important people have their say to stop any expansion at City airport, especially into the weekends when flights are currently banned. It’s shocking that residents have to organise and campaign to keep their peace and quiet.”
Despite what the airports claim, neither of these projects is bound to go ahead – they can be stopped if public opposition and pressure on politicians is strong enough. So how can you make your voice heard? Both Heathrow and London City are now carrying out statutory consultations on their expansion plans (Heathrow closes on 13 September, London City on 18 October). We recommend you don't reply via the airports' websites, where "leading" questions in the online response forms encourage support for the plans, alongside misleading claims of sustainable development.
You can, however, state your opposition to airport expansion by replying directly by email to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also sign online petitions organised by local campaign groups:
If your MP is Harriet Harman (Camberwell and Peckham, email@example.com) or Neil Coyle (Bermondsey and Old Southwark, firstname.lastname@example.org), it's important to send them copies of your replies to the consultations. Both these Labour MPs backed the Heathrow third runway in last year's parliamentary vote. Helen Hayes (Dulwich and West Norwood, email@example.com) has so far opposed airport expansion.
Further information from: